The Institute

The Institute for Uncertain Knowledge IUK Berlin is a non-profit organization producing knowledge on uncertain futures.

We investigate the cultural and scientific codes of soon-to-be risks, the images and calculations of near and remote futures in a practical and theoretical way. The first lead is artistic research bringing together a variety of scientific domains reflecting their approach as the production of signs, artworks, narrations, objects, metaphors or analytic formulars.

It was founded 2016 in Berlin by Svenja Schüffler, Anne Schreiber, Peter Löwe, Gregor Kanitz, a group of experts from different artistic and scientific disciplines. The Institute for Uncertain Knowledge IUK Berlin acts as a forum and publishing platform supporting the anticipation, communication and cultivation of new forms of uncertainties and risks on Earth.
In this framework scientific and artistic projects and curatorial works are realized and presented. Our magazin will disseminate and archive articles, essays and theory by distinct authors and disciplines.


Installing Seismic Risk of Palermo / Istanbul

As we are living in the age of construction on our planet, earthquakes will in the future have an increasing impact on poorly constructed Megacities. Those Megacities at risk represent not only a local extreme risk of lives. Instead these future disasters can have a global changing impact on politics and societies as seen in the case of Fukushima.

The project approaches the complexity of contemporary scientific forecasting and its epistemic mode of modelling and calculating future earth and human impacts. It provides insight into knowing and decision making under distinct uncertainties by different actors (facing low probabilities with high consequences). The recent earthquake disasters and in particular the L´Aquila Earthquake Trial in Italy have underlined how crucial it is to adequately address contemporary risks and uncertainties, as the basis and the result of our decisions.  Project by Svenja Schüffler, Berlin 2015.



WikiDaemon is one kind of a tool with whom we prepare for the unforeseen. The tool is being created as a free online and nonprofit platform. This platform is an art-science initiative created and designed for experimental reasons. In the tradition of a collaborative library, WikiDaemon will provide access and participation to anyone, while at the same time it focuses specifically on the prospection of unintended side effects, uncertainties and risks, that we map out to forecast our future disasters. This experimental platform aims to encourage „anticipating the consequences of human action or events and evaluating the desirability and moral quality of consequences”. (Renn, O. & Klinke, A., 2012): Space Matters! Impacts for Risk Governance. In: The Spational Dimensions of Risk, Müller-Mahn. D., p.1. Project by Svenja Schüffler


The Moment of the theoretical Alert

The project aims to design and critically reflect an Earthquake Early Warning Assistant of the near future. It experiments with scenarios of human-machine interaction via a series of multi-media performances that resemble a laboratory test room. The project will demonstrate a case study on the region of Istanbul and Almaty/Bishkek. It provides scenarios of rescue inside buildings: before, during and in the aftermath of an earthquake. The project is an interdisciplinary work between the artist and geoscientist Svenja Schüffler and the cultural scientist Anne Schreiber. The idea is based on Schüffler’s essay „KAIROS Earthquake Early Warning Application„, an outcome of the “Anthropocene Curriculum: The Technosphere Issue” at the HKW Berlin 2016. Project by Svenja Schüffler | Anne Schreiber, Berlin 2016.


An Experiment on a Bird

The drawings of the new project titled »An Experiment on a Bird« relate to experiments and installations of Svenja Schüffler concerning seismic risk and early warning, trying to intersect art and science. The experiments and underlying ideas are introduced at the platform Anthropocene Curriculum of Haus der Kulturen der Welt HKW/Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in the form of essays at the following links: Installing Seismic Risk of Istanbul // KAIROS Earthquake Early Warning Application

The drawing of the Kakadu (Cockatoo) perching at/under a concrete piece shows an important protagonist of the experiments of Svenja Schüffler. The Kakadu´s life is under threat. As he is exposed to seismic risk, collapsing concrete slabs might come crushing down on him. The bird becomes the experimental animal; a living being as scientific object. What can be observed and testified in this experiment is the bird´s possible survival or death. What decides on  survival or death are probability distributions calculated in real time.

Equally to Robert Boyles canonical  Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, documented in the painting of Josef W. of Derby 1768 at National Gallery of Art in London, the Kakadu´s status as living being and scientific object at once, testifies a new form of scientific matters of fact. Elicitated and testfied matters of fact are characterised as uncertain knowledge expressed as probabilities and probability distributions.

But before the Kakadu might be killed in an earthquake experiment by concrete slabs, according to the probability distribution, he still has something to say. The bird is not only exposed to the seismic risk, but, in case of a calculated earthquake and a calculated subsequent building collapse, he will enounce an early warning, speak out loud the countdown and finally instruct a navigation for rescue. Project by Svenja Schüffler, Berlin 2016



Geschichten motorischer Umgebung. Junge Wilde und gefährliche Milieus
 Leicht überarbeiteter Vortrag am Graduiertenkolleg Topologie der Technik, TU Darmstadt vom 04.02.15

By Gregor Kanitz

Englisch foreword

Dangerous Youth

Apart from very few examples like dangerous dares connected to alcohol, little thefts etc “youth” nowadays does not seem really hazardous or risky to mid-European societies. There are discussions about young people spending hours and hours with their mobile-phones or playing computer-games over several days, but only a few would consider this as a threat to society.

This was much different until the 1960s/70s, at least since the 19th century there was a tremendous concern about “wrong” ways of growing up and especially in metropolitan regions juvenile delinquency caused daily troubles and alarms.

This project deals with youth as a history of knowledge aiming at technological and aesthetic questions. Youth has been treated over the centuries by the respective academic disciplines like pedagogy, sociology or psychiatry. At the same time juvenile practises and habits came into view generating adventure stories or certain styles like fashion or hair-cuts. Examining these styles inspired a vast range of international Cultural Studies since the 1960s.

Very roughly you can differentiate between two directions of youth research: The (seemingly older one) aims at solving the social and medical problems of youth from a grown-up academic perspective. The seemingly newer perspective looks at youth as an emancipatory force. But it is necessary to look at both strains as a history of knowledge, combining the popular and “low” cultural forces with the academic “high” discourses, because the one does not work without the other.

There are three eras, which need to be observed in this transdisciplinary way. Chronologically inverted it starts with the post-war period of the 1950s/60s, goes back to 1900 and will end in the 18th century, when Rousseau inspired the first discussions on this liminal life phase of youth.

The first paper deals with the fictional and scientific imaginations of the German “Halbstarke”. For German authorities their riots were inspired by American movies showing the dangerous effects of cars and motorcycles. The paper examines the affective and technological dimensions of these juvenile practises focussing on the 1950s. Popular aesthetics interfere professionals caring about “youth protection” confronted with juvenile “wild” behaviour.


Kanitz, Gregor (2013). kritisch-inflationär. In: Glossar inflationärer Begriffe (von dilettantisch bis virtuos). Published by ngbk, Berlin / / ISBN: 978-3-938515-51-8

kritisch-inflationär (PDF – german)

Criteria of crisis – critique as process

This essay is part of the book Glossar inflationärer Begriffe, which accompanied the exhibition DIE IRREGULÄREN – ÖKONOMIEN DES ABWEICHENS at the NGBK – Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst e.V., Berlin from 20|04|13 to 02|06|13. Curaters and Editors of the book are Anna Bromley, Michael Fesca, Sara Hillnhütter, Eylem Sengezer and Olga von Schubert.

The current efforts concerning artistic research raise the question, which standards and measures of value can be ascribed to artistic operations and creations. A central issue in this respect is critique as purpose and practise shared both by scientists and artists. A very rough history of the political, aesthetic and material implications of the adjective “critical” may show the difficulties and hopes of critical energies and behaviours from enlightenment to nowadays’ criticality of smart mobs. Critique is a process, which is historically connected to “crisis”: A decision is reached, a distinction is made at a certain point after long debates, after sleepless nights, after a certain experiment or after a revolt or revolution. Beyond this point the criteria for criticism might have changed, the artistic standards reach scientific measures, become a nerds’ ambition or both. The essay points at a sociopolitical and aesthetic theory of these changes. But it is in German and it is written by a “Geistesgeschichte”-nerd.

Excerpt from the text:

Bis heute kann kaum jemand unbeschadet behaupten, unkritisch zu sein. Die Verpflichtung zu kritischen Haltungen ist bereits so lang inflationär, dass einige Blicke in die Geschichte Aufschluss geben können über Konstellationen kritischer Prozesse.
Es wird kritisch, sagt man, wenn eine Entscheidung ansteht. …

By Gregor Kanitz



Schüffler, Svenja (November 2016). Published at Anthropocene Curriculum Platform of Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin HKW / Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

Installing Seismic Risk of Istanbul

Calculated surprise and torn-down slabs. An introduction to the art-science project Installing Seismic Risk of Istanbul. Supported by the German Research Centre for Geoscience GFZ Potsdam and presented at the Forecast Forum, HKW 2015. …

By Svenja SchüfflerPhotograph by Idris Bedirhanoglu, Dicle University, Diyarbakır, Turkey



Schüffler, Svenja (November 2016). Published at Anthropocene Curriculum Platform of Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin HKW / Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

KAIROS Earthquake Early Warning Application

An Instruction for turning Risk into facing your Danger

There is this unpredictable moment when the underground faults start to rupture. Between the start of the cracking of the Earth and the arrival of the waves that tear through underground, until they shake everything at the surface, there is a tiny, special moment of time. Less than a Chronos [1], yet an instant that could be enriched and transformed through a knowledge beyond primal cognition and experience. A knowledge that could help you save your life, whoever you are, and wherever you might be …

By Svenja Schüffler

Photograph by Svenja Schüffler






ATTENTION video starting with earthquake sound !

Forecast Forum, Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin HKW 2015
Project presentation by Svenja Schüffler
Photograph by Marcus Lieberenz


The Institut

The Institute for Uncertain Knowledge IUK Berlin is a non-profit organization producing knowledge on uncertain futures. We investigate the cultural and scientific codes of soon-to-be risks, the images and calculations of near and remote futures in a practical and theoretical way. The first lead is artistic research bringing together a variety of scientific domains reflecting …


Svenja Schüffler is a German artist and geologist living in Berlin. Svenja Schüffler´s projects are engaged in human-earth-science related topics, uncertain knowledge and transfer to the public and decision makers in contexts of art. She has participated in the Anthropocence Curriculum and the Forecast Forum at Haus der Kulturen der Welt 2015. At Forecast she presented her project „Installing seismic risk of Istanbul“ that visualizes and discusses the seismic risk and uncertainties of Istanbul from an art-science perspective in the form of a real-time simulation.

Anne Schreiber is a PhD candidate at the research training group automatisms, University Paderborn. She curated and assisted with various projects (Kunstverein Freiburg, Kunsthaus Dresden, Kunsthaus Freiburg). She took part in the ICI 2013 Summer Curatorial Intensive Symposium, New York, and writes for artnet Magazine, Badische Zeitung, Berliner Gazette, Der Tagesspiegel, De:Bug, Telepolis, and artline.

Peter Löwe is a Geographer and PhD with a background in Geoinformatics and Data Science, involved in Open Geoscience,  Geotourism, Landscape & Nature Interpretation and Data Visualization.

Gregor Kanitz studied modern history, philosophy, und cultural studies in Düsseldorf, Duisburg, and Berlin. He did his PhD on networks and practices of German Geistesgeschichte, with special focus on Wilhelm Dilthey, at the Faculty of Media at Bauhaus-University Weimar. At three research positions in Weimar, Siegen, and Darmstadt, he worked on nineteenth-century life knowledge, the practical history of theory, the relation of crisis and critique and has focused more recently on technologies of youth and adolescence since the eighteenth century. His latest monograph publication was Körper und Häuser des Geistes. Lebens-Arbeit mit Wilhelm Dilthey (2016). He has also worked for various exhibition projects in Germany and abroad.